Wednesday, September 14, 2011

where your charity dollars go

Thanks to the charitynavigator and the like you can check up and see whether the organization you plan to donate to uses your dollars wisely. It goes without saying that people who spend their day running a charity as a full time job need to be compensated for their work. However, it's also fair to say that in an age of declining wages and massive unemployment, that salary should be commensurate with the going rate in other industries. When I see that the administrator of a charity makes upwards of two hundred and even upwards of three hundred and fifty thousand dollars, how can I feel motivated to write out a check to that tzedaka? When I receive a phone call from that organization describing their difficult financial plight, do I have a right to perhaps question whether that plight is one of their own making?

Maybe these are bad questions to ask during Elul, or maybe davka during this time of year when every organization is asking for your support it pays to make sure you are getting the most bang for your charity buck.


  1. In truth, some of the ones paid in the neighborhood of $300K a year still have a highly ranked organization. Much of it has to do with the overall amount of money that flows through the organization. For ex. the Susan Komen foundation gets the top ranking, though its CEO earns nearly half a million a year.

  2. I agree that some administrators are grossly overpaid, but, as Ariella said, that should be an issue of proportion. If a significant percentage of what comes in goes to staff, it's just another kosher fraud. I'm still getting letters from "The Home of the Sages of Israel," when they went private some fifteen years ago. Same thing with some alleged but fraudulent Home for Orphans in Israel- with a picture of some building in Israel with clumsily placed letters of their name on it. You'd have to have old eyes and a trusting soul to believe it was legit.... and of course, that is their perfect victim. The guy who runs it claims he gives all the money to tzdaka. I'm sure he does, if you define tzdaka broadly enough.

  3. Tal Benschar5:23 PM

    Just thinking out loud, but shouldn't the compensation be related somehow to the effectiveness? Suppose someone is appointed head of a tsedakkah, he works hard to increase their donations, and is very succesful -- let's say the yearly donations go up by several millions. Shouldn't he be compensated more than a mediocre manager who does nothing but barely keep the organization at status quo?

  4. I was wondering about "Home of the Sages of Israel". I got their calendar and flyer this year, and looking at the pictures, they're from the 1950s. E.g, look at the traffic light pole in front of the building, it has the old-fashioned street signs with a hump showing the cross-street (see here for an extant example). Those were replaced with the borough-color-coded plain rectangles in 1964, and the contemporary white-on-green rectangles c. 1980.

  5. Anonymous2:32 PM

    I am looking at this site for the same reason.I have always given but some how over the weekend looking @ the mailing I had my doubts of credibility